Courtesy photoTom Hanks gives a memorable performance as the title character in “Captain Phillips.”

Courtesy photoTom Hanks gives a memorable performance as the title character in “Captain Phillips.”

Tom Hanks tells all about Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks’ latest film, “Captain Phillips,” may just include some of the finest moments of his long, extraordinary career.

The Bay Area-bred winner of multiple Oscars was in The City recently talking about the movie, which is based on the true story of Richard Phillips, a merchant mariner who was held hostage by Somali pirates in 2009.

“I’ve got to get out of this line of work. I have got to start playing fake people!” he jokes, describing how he has been able to “go right to the source” and meet people he has portrayed, including Jim Lovell and Charlie Wilson.

“I could interact with them. I could see the way they moved and filled up a room,” says Hanks, who read everything he could get his hands on about the standoff at sea and met with Phillips twice.

“He is a very happy-go-lucky guy,” Hanks says. “But learning how, as soon as he gets on board it’s all business, that ended up speaking a lot to an unseen back story.”

Hanks also learned that Phillips wasn’t entirely afraid during the ordeal. His confrontation with the pirates was, in a sense, easier than two previous times he faced death at sea, during a hurricane and a fire on board his ship.

“He had someone to interact with,” Hanks says. “They even made jokes and laughed and insulted each other’s navy. It was a different type of anxiety.”

One more important detail: “The other thing I learned is that Rich always carries a change of underwear,” Hanks says. As for the pirates, director Paul Greengrass (“United 93,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”) cast Somali immigrants living in Minneapolis.

“Even though they’ve never acted, the best way I can describe it is that whatever it takes to be an actor, they have. They’re storytellers. These guys are all just like the cool guys in the theater department in college, except that they’re very skinny and English is their second language,” Hanks says.

Hanks’ moment of greatness in the film comes at the end in a scene that wasn’t scripted or planned.

“Because it wasn’t on the schedule and we didn’t know we were going to do it, it was kind of like a freebie … We ended up getting something that was somehow accurate. And that’s a testament to Paul that he’s willing to do that,” Hanks says.

But Hanks’ ultimate compliment came when Phillips himself saw the finished movie and said, “Looked familiar to me.”

IF YOU GO

Captain Phillips

Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener

Written by Billy Ray

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Rated PG-13

Running time 2 hours, 14 minutesartsCaptain PhillipsMoviesRichard PhillipsTom Hanks

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and activists Claire Dedrick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Janet Adams watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read